Reviews

  • "A brilliant, abrasive diplomat struggles to resolve foreign conflicts while fighting bureaucratic wars at home in this scintillating biography… Packer makes him a Shakespearean character—egomaniacal, devious, sloppy enough to make presidents deny him the prize of becoming secretary of state, yet charismatic and inspiring—in a larger-than-life portrait brimming with vivid novelistic impressions… In Holbrooke’s thwarted ambitions, Packer finds both a riveting tale of diplomatic adventure—part high drama, part low pettiness—and a captivating metaphor for America’s waning power."

    Publishers Weekly (starred review)
  • "The riveting life of a deeply flawed diplomat whose chief shortcoming seems to have been the need to be more recognized than he was... Students of recent world history and of American power, hard and soft, will find this an endlessly fascinating study of character and events."

    Kirkus Reviews (starred review)
  • "A portrait of the entirety of the man—not just his public life, but also his private motivations. Holbrooke was always vocal about the need for the United States to show ambition in using its power in service of its values. Packer shows that this idea was connected to, and ultimately inseparable from, Holbrooke’s lifelong ambition to win recognition for personally wielding power and shaping events, even at the expense of his relationships with friends, colleagues, and family."

    Foreign policy
  • "Stunning... If you’re one of the dozens of people running for president, the book is probably the best guide you can find to navigating a transitional moment in American leadership and foreign policy. For the rest of us, it’s a gripping read, and a sad one."

    BuzzFeed News
  • "Through a depiction that may be likened to Robert Caro’s <i>The Power Broker,</i> Packer analyzes the forces of character that led us from a commitment to unity to the chaotic division in which we find ourselves today."

    The Observer’s "16 Most Anticipated Books of Spring 2019"

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